The Turn of the Screw


Henry James

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on The Turn of the Screw makes teaching easy.

The Turn of the Screw: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

The governess moves on to describe a particularly important interaction she has with Miles. While walking to church one day, Miles asks the governess when he’ll be going back to school. The governess says she detects some secondary motive in his asking—he seems unusually cheerful and polite, even for him. It seems to her as if some significant change has taken place between them, though she does not specify the nature of the change.
The governess continues here to express her belief that Miles’s outward expressions of innocence—such as his innocently expressed desire to go back to school—conceals insidious motives. Once she gets into this way of thinking, it becomes self-sustaining: every innocent action Miles makes becomes evidence of the hidden corruption the governess believes she has spotted in him.
Exterior vs. Interior Theme Icon
Secrecy Theme Icon
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon
Miles says he brought up the subject because he no longer wants to be around women all the time—he wanted to be with people of his “own sort.” The governess tells Miles that few people seem to be of his own sort, except perhaps Flora, which greatly offends Miles. Miles then asks whether or not his uncle is aware that he was not back at school. The governess tells Miles that his uncle likely would not care either way, and Miles then proudly claims that he will get his uncle to come to Bly himself in order to evaluate this situation.
Miles’s rationale for wanting to return to school shows that—perhaps without the governess’s awareness—he feels stifled at Bly, where he remains constantly under the governess’s watch. The governess here continues to try to keep the children’s uncle’s influence at bay, showing again that she has taken it upon herself to shield them from external influences other than herself.
Youth and Innocence Theme Icon